After three months in my new home my cat went back to my previous address

Lost cat returned to former territory 3 months after moving

Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

After three months in my new home my cat, Gabriel, decided to go back to my previous home to visit his previous ‘home range’ which is about half a mile away. That’s not far but the route is complicated. It is not direct. It goes to prove yet again that cats have great homing skills. He must have a great sense of direction and a good memory because this is after three months.

I lost him about a week ago. I was very distraught. I searched high and low. I did all the usual things that one does to find a lost cat including going back to my old address three times without success. I had decided that he had probably been killed by a large fox who frequents my garden. Although this would have been exceptional it does happen and it could happen. I felt guilty. I felt it was my fault. It was difficult processing it mentally to try and ease some of the massive discomfort that I felt.

I then ended up speaking to a previous neighbour at my former address and a friend of hers said that she had seen my cat. She knew my cat because she had seen him many times before. Therefore this sighting was excellent and believable.

I bought some prawns for my neighbour and gave her one of my cat’s food bowls and asked to put it out when she was sitting at the window so that she could watch to see if my cat turned up.

Amazingly, within the hour he had turned up. I had barely got home and showered and got myself organised before I received a telephone call to say that my cat was outside this lady’s flat. She also said that he had been hanging around my previous home (a neighbouring flat).

I raced around there and called his name. He responded with his typical cries. He comes when I call is name. He came out of the undergrowth. He was hungry. He was nervous and very cautious. He was semi-feral even though he had only been living wild so to speak for about six days. Although, he was born in the wild and therefore it is probably easier to return to that state.

While he was eating his prawns (he was very wary) I grabbed him and put him into a carrier provided by the owner of my former home! I got well and truly scratched doing it because he hated it.

As I dictate this Gabriel is on the bed with me in deep slumber because he is exhausted (photo above). I couldn’t be happier. I needed to believe that he had been killed because it was too hard to think of him struggling in the urban jungle. Although he wasn’t struggling that much because he is a very competent hunter and the weather has been good (he was born feral). Of course he knew the area very well because he had been raised in that area. Therefore I was probably overanxious but what else could I be?

I now intend to build an enclosure around my garden so that he can be an indoor/outdoor cat but the outdoors must be confined to the garden. I hope that he accepts it because I simply cannot live with the knowledge that he is out there somewhere in suburbia, struggling to survive and in perpetual danger. So I am building an enclosure for my welfare! It is the only way I can live with looking after my cat who is domesticated but barely so. This presents new problems which I have not faced before.

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Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

5 thoughts on “After three months in my new home my cat went back to my previous address”

  1. I’m so happy about this; I know how agonizing it can be to lose a cat. However, in my lifetime of having cats, I hadn’t experienced it until my recent move. All of us cat people know that moving with cats is a time of increased stress for all.

    I’m now in a house with a fenced yard, whereas before I lived in a mobile home with only a green belt.

    I take Mitzy out with her fabric halter w/Velcro and a RED leash, and have been doing this for 8 years. Although she was a feral, she adapted easily to the halter when she realized it was the ONLY way she could go out. Since I let go of the leash at times, so she can experience more freedom (under my watchful eye!), the RED leash immediately tells me where she is if I’m unable to see her. She’s what I call, a “camo” kitty because she blends in with nature, except when on grass.

    I’ve been in my new place for 2 months, and she has on occasion, ventured to one side of the yard around the corner where I can’t see her or the leash. When she starts in that direction, I say “NO!”, and she stops and retreats.

    I keep a close watch on her, because twice in the past month, when I’ve looked away for less than a minute, she jumped the wooden fence. We border 5 yards, and I didn’t know which one she might be in. I called and got a ladder to look over the fence. It was morning, and I cancelled my plans to run errands. I was panicked. Several homes have dogs, and we’re very close to a wooded creek path.

    I knocked on doors, but no one was home. I looked into yards through the slats in the wood fences, while calling for her. Nothing! After an hour passed, I got in my car to drive around the block to knock on doors of homes behind us.

    A young man answered at the first door, and asked “Is your kitty gray and fluffy? She’s in the corner of my yard. I thought she was one of the neighborhood ferals.” I spotted her halter and red leash on the top of our bordering fence. Then I heard her mournful cry that seemed to indicate that although she was able to jump over this way, somehow she wasn’t able to jump back. (My imagination, of course!)

    I was relieved, and could breathe normally again. BUT, a week later, she escaped again, while my landlady had my attention. It’s as if she knows that I’m not looking at her.

    This time I did the same thing as before, calling and driving around the block. No sign of Mitzy! When I returned home, and went into the yard, I heard her crying in response to my call. She was crouched under the chair where I usually sit. And her halter was off! (Later, I found it near the “forbidden” area.)

    The best part of this last adventure is that she was able to find her way home. Once before when I moved into the mobile home, we’d only been there a day when a horrific storm hit, with high wind and pelting rain. I had built a wire enclosure for the porch that went up high enough that I thought she couldn’t get out, but she did!

    I woke in the middle of the night to the sounds of the storm, and as usual I checked to see where she was. She was gone! I saw the evidence of her leap over the wire, as there was a tuft of her fur on the edge.

    I went out with a flashlight and treats, calling and fearing that since she hadn’t been out, and with the storm, there would be no memory or scent to guide her home. After about an hour of futile calling and searching, I resigned myself to the possibility that she was lost, and I’d never see her again.

    In spite of that feeling, I put out her soiled litter box and bed, under an awning, and went back to sleep. I awoke to the sounds of “meow, meow” at 3AM. She had found her way back to her home, even though she had no established memory of it, and even in this pouring rain.

    This was my first experience of losing a cat, and it’s got to be one of the most gut wrenching feelings a cat guardian goes through, other than facing a serious illness and necessary surgery.

    Even though in the past when I lived on 5 acres in Hawaii, and had indoor/outdoor cats, they never got lost in 10 years. I always kept them in at night, after mealtime. Now, I’m a firm believer in keeping cats indoors, because the stress of allowing them to roam freely is not something I want to experience.

    As I’ve said before, I see cats as 2 yr. olds, with a complete lack of awareness of dangers from cars, poisons, cat haters/thieves, dogs, and cat fights~with potentially deadly bites.

    I’m unable to use anything to cat proof the fence, since I’m just renting. I look forward to seeing what Michael will install, to keep Gabriel safe. For now, Mitzy’s only outdoor safety is on her leash, or under my watchful eyes.

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